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Leaked Cable #r?a?p?e?: An Open Rant Against the Perpetuation of Rape Myths

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.

Media Analysis

So, I could write a really polite open letter. You know, kind of a figurative tap on the shoulder to say: "Hey guys, when you're writing and commenting about these charges against Julian Assange, you're sort of perpetuating awful stereotypes and sexist arguments about women and rape..."

Fuck polite. I am so done with polite.

I'll begin with an uber-basic overview: Julian Assange is the Director of WikiLeaks, a not-for-profit media organization that, according to the original website, provides an "innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists." This year, WikiLeaks has been releasing thousands upon thousands of classified and secret US documents regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now diplomatic cables. Bonanza! Unsurprisingly, some folks, like the US government and military, aren't too pleased about it.

But the subject of this rant is the discussion surrounding the sexual assault charges. In August 2010, an investigation was opened in Sweden regarding allegations that Assange had raped one women and sexually harassed another woman that same month while in Sweden. The investigation went full steam ahead and charges were filed by a Swedish prosecutor for rape, sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion, according to press reports, although translations of legal charges do not always do the original charges justice. In November, after a Stockholm court approved a detention request to question Assange, an Interpol red notice and a European Arrest Warrant were both issued.

One main reaction has been that these are trumped up investigations and charges, that the timing in relation to the leaking of important documents is no coincidence, and that prosecution is rather, shall we say, zealous.

People say "but these charges are trumped up! the charges are bogus!" and that may be true and it may not. But why is the starting point for discussion the dismissal of the allegations? You know, it IS POSSIBLE that Julian Assange DID sexually assault a woman in Sweden AND that the charges are trumped up in a way and dealt with in a certain way because of his work with WikiLeaks.

So let's get this straight. You can wrap your head around the fact that there is cross-border collusion and manipulation by police, judicial, and other governmental authorities from various countries... and I agree that there is... but you cannot understand that there may *also* have actually been a sexual assault? Just because someone is being persecuted for their work means that they cannot be guilty of something like sexual harassment?

If you can't see that your logic is flawed and that one (persecution) does not exclude the other (sexual assault), maybe you shouldn't write an article about it. And if you are going to get into the whole issue and write about it in your blog or article or facebook status or whatever, why isn't your starting point the allegation of sexual assault made by the woman instead of its outright dismissal or an attack against her?

Why is the reaction "this is bogus!" as opposed to "why can't the investigation and prosecution of all sex crimes worldwide be so damn efficient?" Seriously. If there is persecution of Assange through the legal system, it is only clear because the reaction is so uncommon. Imagine if women denouncing rape and sexual assault were taken so seriously that there were immediate and thorough investigations, charges filed in a timely manner, and arrest warrants enforced so enthusiastically as in this case. This rarely happens.

Another main reaction, actually probably the principal point of discussion, concerns the details of the allegations and charges. Obviously, none of us can really know for sure what went on in someone else's bedroom, but Assange does admit to consensual sex with the two women making the allegations.

The rape allegation stems from an incident that began as consensual sex using a condom. According to most accounts, something happened to this condom (broken, split, removed, whatever, take your pick). Also according to most accounts, at some point the woman protested concerning the lack of protection, and later also protested that Assange reportedly refused to go for STD testing. And I'm sure there will be a shitstorm of responses explaining to me how I'm wrong because, you know, other people were, like, there.

The next messed up debate is over whether what happened constituted rape or sexual assault. Apparently there's a little-used law in Sweden that can land you up to two years in jail for sex without a condom. I don't know what the details are, but I'm assuming it's a little more complex than that?! Anyways, according to her own account, the woman's main issue was that at some point during consensual sex with a condom, the condom [fill in your blank here with some version that basically means the condom is now ineffective]. And that later on, after she protested the lack of protection, her request to Assange that he get tested for STDs was refused.

Swedish laws aside, a lot of the discussion going on seems to center on whether or not the sex was consensual, and what the definition of consensual is, since it's such a subjective issue. Wait! What the fuck?

For some thoughts on the matter, I'm going to turn to the only post I have seen that sheds some sanity on the discussion. Oh, wait, it's also the only post on the subject written by a woman that I have seen. Oh yeah, and also the only post written by someone who publicly identifies as a survivor of sexual assault that I have seen.

In her post "How Must She Behave to Have Been Raped?" on her blog Almost Diamonds, Stephanie Zvan responds to the issue of consent:

"It doesn't matter whether a woman consented to have sex with you. If she tells you to stop, and you don't stop, that is still sexual assault. I don't care how frustrating it is or whether you hate her for the rest of your life for it. Sex you have with someone without their permission is rape.

Let's say that again: Sex you have with someone without their permission is rape.

One more time just for clarity: Sex you have with someone without their permission is rape.

Does that tell me whether Assange did what he's accused of doing? Nope. I just don't know. And neither do you."

Although, sadly, if men haven't picked up on what consent is by now, I'm not sure even the clear, enunciated repetition will help make it sink in.

So I've addressed a few of the issues that seem to have come up again and again, even in comments from men I know and for whom I have generally felt respect. But let's take a look at what some of the articles being re-posted all over social media networks and email lists look like with a couple concrete examples.

To start off, how about taking a look at Counterpunch, since it is relatively well-known by progressive folks, and in particular, the article Assange Beseiged: Making a Mockery of the Real Crime of Rape by Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett. Calling the allegations "farcical rape charges," Shamir and Bennett write: "Julian Assange now stands accused of: (1) not calling a young woman the day after he had enjoyed a night with her, (2) asking her to pay for his bus ticket, (3) having unsafe sex, and (4) participating in two brief affairs in the course of one week."

Those are clearly not the accusations. Repeating irrelevant details, except perhaps for "having unsafe sex," comes across as dismissive and mocking. The inclusion of irrelevant information and the exclusion of relevant information is misleading and serves to discredit the woman alledging sexual assault.

Shamir and Bennett go on to elaborate on "her anti-Castro, pro-CIA streak" and that she "apparently indulges in her favorite sport of male-bashing," something they learned from a "Swedish forum" and then continued to discuss in detail. Wait, a forum as in a chat forum, right? So if I find some random chat forum online that talks about how Shamir and Bennett are evil warlocks and discusses how they apparently indulge in their favourite sport of infant-bashing, can I report it as fact and publish my piece on Counterpunch too?

Or what if I actually shared the source? Let's say that I checked out the May 2004 issue of Searchlight, a UK-based monthly print magazine against racism and fascism that has been around for 35 years. Let's say that I specifically read the article "Israeli Writer is Swedish Anti-Semite" by Tor Bach, Sven Johansen and Lise Apfelblum.

I know, the title kind of sounds like a conspiracy theory, but the well-researched article is actually about Counterpunch author Israel Shamir aka Joran Jermas. He changed his name to Jermas in 2001, roughly around the time he started publishing online under the name Israel Shamir. The Searchlight article breaks down Shamir/Jermas' own virulent anti-Semitism, but also his close connections to fascists and conspiracy theorists. Now, there's nothing wrong with having friends who are into shape-shifting lizards, but the article also details a series of lies told and written by Shamir/Jermas regarding his identity, residence, and former employment.

Apparently Counterpunch co-editor Alexander Cockburn didn't do much digging into either authors or sources, because Cockburn cited the aforementioned article co-authored by Shamir in his own recent article "Julian Assange: Wanted by the Empire, Dead or Alive." Granted, Cockburn certainly does not delve into the issue much, or replicate some of Shamir's more ludicrous statements, but the third paragraph of his article certainly echoes Shamir's dismissal of the rape allegations quite closely: "[Assange is] wanted in Sweden for questioning in two alleged sexual assaults, one of which seems to boil down to a charge of unsafe sex and failure to phone his date the following day."

Cockburn's next two paragraphs quote Shamir/Jermas about the alledged "ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups" of one of the women accusing Assange. These ominous "ties" may exist, but they both overstated and self-referencing back to Shamir.

What is fascinating to me is that Counterpunch co-editor Cockburn only attributes the quotes to Shamir, when the Counterpunch article - also linked to by Cockburn - is clearly co-authored by Shamir and Paul Bennett. When I googled Israel Shamir, I immediately found the Searchlight article and a whole slew of information concerning his sketchiness. But I'm now looking for anything on Paul Bennett but can find no record of such a person except as an online co-author with Shamir/Jermas on articles about Assange and how the sexual assault charges are bogus and how the woman is connected to the CIA. (cue X files music! shape-shifting lizards!)

Ok, seriously folks, CIA ties or not is not the issue here. *But* since what has been said about it in multiple articles and by multiple people all seems to come back to the words of Israel Shamir aka Joran Jermas aka one hell of a sketchy dude, let's see what he says on the subject.

Shamir says that Anna Ardin, who alledges that Assange sexually assaulted her, published a couple articles in Swedish in some Cuba review journal. Apparently professor Michael Seltzer (oh shit, this isn't one of Shamir/Jermas' conspiracy theory buddies, is it?) says the publication is a product of a "well-financed anti-Castro organization in Sweden" which in turn has links to Union Liberal Cubana, led by Carlos Alberto Montaner, who has been accused of being linked to the CIA.

That's right. She published a couple anti-Castro articles in a journal linked to an organization linked to an organization led by a guy with ties to the CIA. Oh, and in Cuba, she "interacted with" a feminist anti-Castro group that is supported by Luis Posada Carriles. The thousands of posts online about how this woman's sexual assault allegations are bogus because of her "CIA ties" come back to those indirect connections alledged by Shamir/Jermas.

That's it? That's fucking it? That is everyone's proof that the sexual assault charges must be a sham? I love how just the mention of "CIA ties" gets people up in arms about how the woman alledging sexual assault is a tool of the CIA to discredit Assange. Maybe so, maybe not. But all of the available written material essentially comes down to the fact that if you replace Kevin Bacon with Luis Posada Carriles, you could play 6 degrees of separation with the woman? Hell, I bet I would only be a couple degrees of separation from Luis Posada Carriles...

Jesus, Murphy... Kirk James Murphy, M.D., in fact. He also referenced the whole "CIA" connections and anything he could come up with to discredit the allegations of sexual assault in a post that has been circulating way too much. It is pretty awesome that he starts out by giving props to the Counterpunch folks who "broke" the story.

Actually, in light of the above examination, the title is pretty hilarious: Assange Accuser Worked with US-Funded, CIA-Tied Anti-Castro Group. But let's leave the CIA and get back to the rape. Check out this paragraph:

"I’ve spent much of my professional life as a psychiatrist helping women (and men) who are survivors of sexual violence.  Rape is a hideous crime.  Yet in Assange’s case his alleged victim – the gender equity officer at Uppsula University – chose to throw a party for her alleged assailant..."

Do I need to hold anyone's hand through this? I'm a big dick shrink and therefore I get to say when it's rape and when it's not. Her job as a gender equity officer at a University means she can't possible be raped. She knew her alledged assailant, so she couldn't have been raped. She threw him a party, so she *definitely* couldn't have been raped. Wow, it's like a course! The Perpetuation of Rape Myths 101.

That paragraph is what started this whole rant. That piece - along with the two Counterpunch pieces - was posted on facebook by people I know. When I say people, I mean, you know, "progressive" people. Wait, scratch out the "people" and replace it with "men."

When I passionately objected to the rape myths being perpetuated in a disgusting way in that particular paragraph, the response I got, including from a friend (yeah, you guessed it, of the penis-wielding variety) was the whole "CIA ties! She's 6 degrees of separation from Posada Carriles!"

Holy shape-shifting lizards! Fuck you!

Okay, well, I wouldn't want to sign off without letting Shamir (and Bennett?) wax poetic: "We need our captain Neo, whether chaste or womanizer, in order to uncover the secret doings of our governments behind the Matrix. For our own sakes, we must all do our part to protect him from castrating feminists and secret services alike."

Oh my god! The issue is about protecting a womanizer from castrating feminists for our own sakes! Of course! (slaps forehead) Why didn't I understand that before I was sidetracked by all of those pesky sexual assault charges and rape myth perpetuations?

Seriously though, guys, don't call him "our captain Neo." First of all, Morpheus is a captain - Neo's captain, in fact - not Neo. But more importantly, Neo is WAY hotter than Assange...

For those of you who are sick and tired of the whole Julian Assange saga and all of the cult-of-personality shit, power to you! I mean, if people want to find a hero, try supporting Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old US Army intelligence analyst who [is accused of actually leaking] the documents and whose legal persecution will not resemble a soap opera.*

I personally wish that Julian Assange were some asexual, ugly, pimply, suspender-wearing teenager with braces who lives in his mom's basement. Maybe then people would spend more time discussing the actual leaked documents and cables, as opposed to arguing about how there's no way some anti-Castro, gender-equity-working, Assange-acquainted woman who originally consented to sex with Assange and threw him a party could possibly ever be sexually assaulted by him.

But if someone you love and respect posts a disgusting piece full of bullshit sexist arguments about women and rape on the whole Assange saga, don't let it go unchecked. Hell, if some asshole you hate posts something vile of the sort, feel free to hurl the link to this rant like a molotov cocktail onto their facebook wall with such force that it shatters their screen.

Written by Sandra Cuffe and a whole lot of coffee. No shape-shifting lizards were harmed in the writing of this rant.

* This sentence was edited on December 9th, in response to a comment (below) made by Melinda. The original sentence - "Bradley Manning... who actually leaked the documents" - was factually incorrect. The hyperlink to the Bradley Manning Support Network was also added on December 9th, 2010. - S.C.

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Comments

Some men just don't understand

It is Julian Assange responsibility to defend himself against these possible sex crimes. Talk about your contractions of shades. Julian wants to lead an organization that provides the facilities for "wrong doings," but decides to hide when he is suspected of wrong doing. If he is correct in the reasons for leaking certain information he will get the support that he needs. However, he current behaviour is eroding his support. They will always be people who believe in consparicy theories, but what Julian is being accused of is serious.

When a woman says stop or no, to continues is rape. Men should understand if she say stop understand her, or just walk away.

 

but decides to hide when he

but decides to hide when he is suspected of wrong doing.

Whereby "decides to hide" you mean "stayed in Stockholm, Sweden for a month and a half after the initial accusations, repeatedly offering and requesting to be interviewed by detectives and prosecutors, only leaving the country once the prosecutor's office apologized and dropped the charges citing a lack of evidence" and "upon the case having been re-opened by a politician following Assange's profile having risen, remained in constant contact with British police so they knew his whereabouts at all times should a legitimate indictment actually come through at some point."

Though I can see how you could make that mistake.

Thank you for this rant.

Thank you for this rant.  Finally some understanding of the Assange rape charge. Both sides of the debate are blinded by their own black and or white (ideological) underpinnings.

psh...

No. All men DO NOT rape. But, I would suggest that all women are raped in one form or another. All men rape............ c'mon! At least be realistic. That is just as horrendous and reactionary as all the crap taking place now. Too bad some of us are complete idiots.......... (or maybe we are ALL IDIOTS!)

guilty or innocent?

So what... he's probably raped someone in his life, so we get him now or later. It's amazing that it's easier to believe that many people are involved in a cover up with bribes and secret meetings than it is to believe that this jerk off actually raped someone. He seems to have such good core values, right? How could he have done something like that?

Easily. All men rape. Nice piece here. Well written. I can feel your passion. Your disgust.

ALL men rape?

That's pretty bold.

Unfair!

"probably raped someone in his life" and "all men rape" are harsh, unconsidered phrases, and do you no credit. And they are lies. I am a man - I have not raped. Assange *may* have raped, but the "probably" is bullshit.

All men rape?

Including your father?

"All men rape"? Hmmm... so do all women lie about rape?

"All men rape." Nice. Yeah, why don't we augment the stupid, stereotypical, misogynistic support of Assange by making equally stupid, stereotypical, misandrist remarks about men? I have an idea, why don't I follow suit and make equally stupid, stereotypical, misogynistic remarks like, "all women lie about rape"? Then this can become a carnival sideshow, instead of an intelligent article countering the stupid, stereotypicl, misogynistic support of Assange and character assassination of his victim... nah.

I have an idea.... instead of just feeling her passion, or her "disgust", why don't you also feel her authenticity and her excellent, balanced approach?

You labeled yourself the menstruator, I think that's a typo. I believe you meant to type, "mencastrator".

You show such disdain for those quick to believe in "cover up[s] with bribes and secret meetings", yet you yourself propogate the ultimate conspiracy theory that "all men rape". As Sandra says, "cue X files music! shape-shifting lizards!" and cue the rampant hordes of every man raping. Seems your "core values" are about as sterling as Assange. Perhaps you should consider dating, then you could accuse him of rape and his supporters could wage a smear campaign against you citing the fact that you are a "castrating feminist". The difference being that they would be right about you.

while I agree that belittling

while I agree that belittling rape is completely and utterly and totally unnacceptable, I think the real issue here is the mixing up of the two issues.  And having 'us' out here in the 'public' arguing about this stuff is no doubt doing great favours to the various administrations who are all embarrassed to hell right now.  The more we spend our breath on Assange and conspiracy theories the less we pay attention to the lies, spying and manipulation of the truth that the leaks have uncovered.

In regards to the rape charge, totally, a trial by media, facebook, twitter etc is unnacceptable for ALL invovled.  That is completely contrary to the basic ideas of justice.  And true, none of us will ever get our facts straight.  Your article misses some key ones, but that's besides the point.

I think there's two important outcomes that need to be demanded for justice to occur.  The rape charges need to be addressed as speedily and rigurously in regards to process as possible.  I even wonder if it's possible for a fair trial now but I'm not familiar enough with the Swedish judicial system to comment.  What I do know is that if he is guilty or innocent of these charges these women need a solid process and he needs access to the basic rights a democratic justice system should give him.  I'm writing from Australia and I can tell you our citizens are reasonably unhappy with what's going on here http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/41914.html

Secondly, I believe there needs to be a complete disconnect between the alleged rape charges and the leaks.  Please tell me another example of a rapist who makes the interpol list.  Don't get me wrong, I think every rapist should be on there.  But if any governments want to bring charges against Assange for the leaks they need to be treated as a seperate matter.

I don't want to make Assange a hero, despite my admiration for the work he has done, but what ever he has or hasn't done, he deserves a fair trial.  No assasinations, no mysterious dissappearances, no manipulations of evidence.  And absolutely the same goes for Bradley Manning.

Glad to hear that no lizards were hurt, ...

... although I must express my puzzlement with this obsession with shape-shifting lizards. Sometimes I wish I didn't have so much contempt for Freud, just so I could use his BS to make jokes.

 

Aside from that, what do you propose, given the context? Does it really come down to I'm a guy therefore I must defend Assange, and you're a woman, therefore you must believe the female version of the story? Before reading this, I was actually pretty convinced that Assange had done something wrong mostly because I have a natural tendency to believe the woman's side of the story (despite being a man! GASP! Sacrilege!!) and honestly Julian Assange looks like the kinda guy who can't control his urges, but I have this nasty habit of getting suspicious when something is defended too heatedly.

 

Would you not concede that it is a possibility (however remote it might be) that she's making up the part of the story about consent (or lack thereof)? Is estrogen some sort of truth serum? For my part, I'm more than willing to concede that, under normal circumstances, if a woman feels compelled to come out and complain about an incident that she perceived as sexual assault, there's a pretty friggin' good chance that it was indeed sexual assault because she's automatically exposing herself to so much scrutiny that she'd have to be insane to inflict that sort of agony upon herself. However, that benefit of the doubt doesn't extend to Monica Lewinsky-esque cases quite as vigorously.

 

Anyway, these are just some thoughts from a guy who actually considers himself a feminist (for which he takes beatings both from men and feminists, and yet doesn't learn his lesson: how dumb do you have to be!).

You missed the point of the post

"Is estrogen some sort of truth serum?"

I saw nothing in the post that said the women were telling the truth full stop and that Assange is guilty no questions asked.  She did allow for the possibility that these women are telling the truth (and also allowed for the possibility that Assange is not guilty of the crimes). 

You seem to miss the fact that the post focused on the discussion around this story.  She was condemning the knee-jerk, vitriolic misogyny and hysteria on the part of lefty men, who were happy to declare these women liars and CIA plotters and engage in rape-apology

I'm assuming the conspiracy

I'm assuming the conspiracy theorist Shamir has been associating with was David Icke, who believes that giant shapeshifting lizards run the world. (googlesearch) yep... =/ 

Anyways, mzoghi, you seem to be missing the point of the article. Whether Assange is or isn't guilty of the crime he's accused of is open for debate. Whether or not he was prosecuted in this way because of government pressure is another separate issue. That's not the problem. 

The problem is that some of those arguments, as typified by those at  Counterpunch, are undermining the principals of consent and autonomy which in turn minimizes sex crimes against women. Saying that it's no big deal for a man to ignore the conditions for consent (Yes, only if you have a condom on) opens the doors to other abusive situations as being similarly "no big deal" (Yes, but not anal).

The result is essentially arguing "she had it coming", which should be called out for the anti-woman garbage it's based on. 

shape-shifting lizards & missing the point

Sheelzebub pretty much said everything I was going to say in my reply to your comments. Thanks, Sheelzebub!!!

And with regard to the shape-shifting lizards, I actually think the idea is both kind of cool and funny at the same time. I love lizards. It was one of the things discussed in the Searchlight piece regarding who Shamir/Jermas associates with, in terms of conspiracy theorists (and fascists, which was more the main point re association)... And I just kind of ran with it at some point after 1am...  ;)

What is the point when you sit down and think about it?

If the point is the reprehensibility of knee-jerk reactions, then kudos on beating the crowd you're criticizing in this knee-jerk contest (and while we're at it, the three of you will share the missing the point award as that was my point, which all three of you missed). Someone said something about men not having a monopoly on rage, which is just a manifestation of the lack of any depth of understanding of the real issue: this sort of superficiality is specially a problem in Western Canada where people seem to know nothing other than the crap that happened in Europe. Even "radicals" here can't get beyond their colonial mindset.

 

The Taoists (the original feminists, before the word feminist existed) figured out that the solution to patriarchy is not to turn women into men, which just reinforces patriarchy, but to make the society more feminine (not more female). Then again, I really don't expect this crowd to understand any of this stuff, as I realized long ago that what is stating the obvious to the majority of activists in Ontario seems to be radical revelations to the so called "radicals" in BC. Why is this place so backward and uncultured? And why is it my fate to suffocate here? WHY?

I just love it when a d00d

I just love it when a d00d mansplains to me about what real feminism should be.

:)

Heh heh, I was going to add a bunch more sarcastic comments, but I'll stop.

And I just love it...

First of all let me say that this guy is off the mark. He missed the point. The point was about the *reaction* surrounding the claims, not the claims.

But why does Sheelzebub have to refer to men as "dOOds" and what we do as "mansplaining"? Why did our intelligent, reasoned blog host have to chuckle and second that opinion? I wonder if our illustrious host would be as supportive if I had said something like:

"I just love it when a chICk broadsplains to me...", whatever?

Come on, people. You're just mirroring the garbage others are doing. You might as well be lumped in with the "vitriolic misogynists" writing crap like that or gleefully backslapping those that do. Take the higher ground always or the occasional trips you make there seem like self-centered support of your own causes.

I may be illustrious, but I'm not a host ;)

I'm not a host of anything. I am the author of the blog post and am participating in an open discussion on an open message board, just as you are.

I chuckled because I have heard the same arguments and reactions so many times that I no longer react with intense disgust or rage, but with humour, because otherwise I would have honestly made myself sick by now. And I do think that a man telling women that they do not know what feminism is, that in BC we're all too dumb to get it, etc, is asinine and laughable. My own laughter was not meant as a personal attack against the person who posted the comments. I have met him and respect him very much.

I also very much appreciate your comments, but I just want to make it clear that, illustrious or whatever other adjective or not, I am *not* a host of this website or this discussion. I am a contributing member of the VMC and wrote the rant. Here, in the comment section, I'm just one more voice among many other interesting comments.

Saludos,

Sandra

Rage

I thought the comment on men having the monopoly on rage was interesting, actually. It made me think. I do agree with you re the point *not* being to turn women into men.

I was actually just really angry and thus wrote the rant. I was *not* trying to be a man, just to make that clear, although I don't think anyone was actually suggesting that. My anger may have been related to gender, of course, but I think it was just human, ungendered anger, probably more related to being a sexual assault survivor myself, as opposed to feeling a need to pump up the testoterone.

"I really don't expect this crowd to understand any of this stuff"

Yeah, totally, we're way too stupid to understand what your superior brain can wrap itself around, for sure. (damn, resorted to sarcasm again. gotta stop that.)

"I realized long ago that what is stating the obvious to the majority of activists in Ontario seems to be radical revelations to the so called "radicals" in BC. Why is this place so backward and uncultured? And why is it my fate to suffocate here? WHY?"

I don't know. Is it your fate or is it your choice? What's stopping you from going to Ontario if you think everyone's so much more enlightened there?

Just sayin'...

Sandra, I think we're on the

Sandra,

I think we're on the same page. I was just saying, it's socially acceptable, more often than not, for dudes to express rage as a masculine emotion and for women to be polite as a fem emotion. The whole "women nag men, are too sensitive, and too emotional" stereotype was defied when you plainly wrote FUCK POLITE. :)

Men are granted a monopoly on rage at birth. We are given toy soldiers and tanks. We are taught to fight instead of forgive. We are shown patronizing fiction stories about knights and superheroes where women are helpless. We are taught to be martyrs for God, family, and country. On every level we're taught to be full of rage. Which, personally, I embrace and except, as well as my newfound capacity to love and nurture, something that has been hidden from me until I willfully explored it.

Anyway, I always like to read and hear women justifiably speaking in an angry tone, raging on. Part of establishing equality in movement building is accepting the wide range of emotions people honestly feel and abolishing the borders of what's acceptable emotions according to gender.

The comment that it was written "too heatedly"  and the dude couldn't "take you seriously" pissed me off. That's the typical privileged academic elitist liberal response every authoritarian leader has ever given me in my activism. "I would work with you on  ________ but you're too angry about it." It's also what I've been taught to say to my mom and female partners when they're mad at me.

It reminded me of the comeback "Don't ask me why I'm angry, ask yourself why aren't you angry."

-Alex

My most heartfelt sympathies

I'm sorry to hear about your traumatic experience. Also, just to be clear, I'm neither trying to make a point by saying this, nor am I being sarcastic.

I hate to burst your bubble,

I hate to burst your bubble, but Taoism as it has been practiced in China for centuries is not feminist. Buddhism, maybe (at the very least Buddhism was historically more common amongst women in China than Confucism or Taoism), but not Taoism. The principle of Yin and Yang is just as easily used to declare that a woman's place is in the kitchen (they called it "the woman's quarters", hopefully you understand the meaning) as to encourage bigender expression - in fact, that's exactly how it was used in China (strangely, bigender expression doesn't seem to show up much in Taoist liturature).

This was a demonstration of how mansplaining stands up poorly in the face of people who actually know things. You're welcome. While you're at it, thank me for not pointing out the irony of bitching about fate in the same paragraph where you pretend to know how Taoism works.

What can I say?

One tends to become speechless when one's confronted by clowns. As Edward Said articulated in the documentary that was done about him, "there is no point in arguing with idiots," and the word idiot isn't really a form of insult in this case, but rather it refers to the particular phenomenon that is people who are either incapable or unwilling to comprehend what you're saying and who go on arguing about a separate topic of their own choosing: did you not notice the time frame I was referring to (ie 2000 years ago)? Did I ever mention femalism (which is as a physiological debate, as opposed to feminism, which is a psychological issue)?

 

I guess this is why Said was so much smarter than I'll ever be: I can't even follow his words of wisdom.

Ok, I have more to add

I guess I did have something to add to Sheelzebub's awesome response, after all.

"Would you not concede that it is a possibility (however remote it might be) that she's making up the part of the story about consent (or lack thereof)?"

How do you conclude that I conclude that the women are telling the truth? You really did miss the point or else read what you wanted to hear. I said that people's starting point should always be to take allegations of sexual assault seriously, not that they were automatically telling the truth, either because they're women or for any other reason.

"Is estrogen some sort of truth serum?"

Wow, I'm going with "no comment" on that one.

"Does it really come down to I'm a guy therefore I must defend Assange, and you're a woman, therefore you must believe the female version of the story?"

No, did I say it came down to that? I have, however, noticed that the trend in posts and comments on the issue are pretty different coming from men than coming from women. My rant *is* principally directed at men, because I scanned a lot of posts and comments while writing it and have yet to see any remarks from a woman that perpetuates rape myths or reacts in other ways that I address in the rant.

"I have a natural tendency to believe the woman's side of the story (despite being a man! GASP! Sacrilege!!)"

I think that natural tendency is good and should just be a given. In almost all cases, a person accused of something or charged with something will deny it. That's the main point of my rant, I think: the starting point should be taking allegations of sexual assault seriously, in *all* cases.

"For my part, I'm more than willing to concede that, under normal circumstances, if a woman feels compelled to come out and complain about an incident that she perceived as sexual assault, there's a pretty friggin' good chance that it was indeed sexual assault because she's automatically exposing herself to so much scrutiny that she'd have to be insane to inflict that sort of agony upon herself."

Awesome, although I'm not sure why you feel the need to state that you're "willing to concede" this. Shouldn't it just be a given? And I'm a little uneasy about the phrasing of "complain about an incident that she perceived as sexual assault." Complain is a poor choice of word, I think. One definition of complain is definitely "To make a formal accusation or bring a formal charge" and thus appropriate. But the first and more common definition is "to express resentment, displeasure, etc., esp habitually; grumble." It's not a criticism at all, just wanted to throw that out there. The "perceived" part also makes me a little uneasy, but I guess I can understand with respect to this case... sort of...

"However, that benefit of the doubt doesn't extend to Monica Lewinsky-esque cases quite as vigorously."

Who are you to judge what kind of allegations of sexual assault are valid and which should be dismissed? Seriously! That is the kind of response that my rant is directed at. On the particular case in question, I'm going to quote a facebook comment made by Kate in response to that sentence of yours: "If the boundaries of consent [are] that a partner wear a condom and said partner takes off the condom, that is at least sexual assault if not rape."

Enough said. I really do appreciate your comments, but I would encourage you to go back and read through the first part of the rant again after reading all of these comments.

Sandra

 

damn, forgot one thing

"(despite being a man! GASP! Sacrilege!!)"

That is not sacrilege. It is also *not* heroic. That should be very basic, not sacriligious or heroic or revolutionary in any way. It should be basic that men should take allegations of sexual assault seriously. It should also be basic that everyone (men and women) should call people out when they're dismissing allegations of sexual assault as a point of departure, or when they're perpetuating rape myths, or when... Once again, that should be basic, not sacriligious or heroic or revolutionary.

Too heatedly??

mzoghi,

It's totally fair for women to rage against patriarchy, especially something as blatantly sexist as questioning/blaming the victim of a sexual assault. I personally believe that by writing the rant in a "fuck polite" way, Sandra is defying the societal monopoly of rage that men possess and I totally give her props.

It fucking sucks that the language of rape culture comes so easily for men because we're socialized from the minute we're given light-blue diapers to adhere to the masculine gender extreme that poses us as direct enemies of women and what women have to say.

If every time you spoke, someone considered it nagging and dismissed you until you rephrased it to be polite, wouldn't you blow up in their face every once in a while?

Ultimately, progressive/socialist/anarchist/radical men often attribute the monopoly of violence to the State and Capitalism, but in reality, it's within us and our social relationships that patriarchy resides.

Great piece Sandra!

-Alex

Thanks!

:)

rape rant

I don't think it's an accident that the subject is about rape, because for a lot of people touched by it (and I have my past too), the emotional response is guilty until proven innocent.

But let's get things straight here.  There are no charges.  Julian Assange is not being charged with rape or sexual assault.  He is wanted for questioning.  Period.  The fact that interpol was involved at this stage - when there's not even a charge - says volumes about where this is really coming from.

Of course the timing is suspect.  Of course there's huge international pressure.  To me that means we should focus on "innocent until proven guilty" even more.  

An interview on Democracy Now about this :  http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/7/glenn_greenwald_julian_assange_arrest_and

 

Missing the point

Hi,

Thanks for your comments. But you and others really are missing the point of the entire piece.

I don't know if Assange is guilty or not of the charges he is wanted for *questioning* about. I said charges were *filed* by the prosecutor, not *laid*... I don't know who is telling the truth about what. AND I DON'T CARE.

My rant is directed at the discussion surrounding the issue. At the people writing articles about it that perpetuate disgusting rape myths. At the people who make comments online to the same effect. AND at the people who let these posts and comments slip by without in some way shouting WTF?!

Regarding "innocent until proven guilty," I agree. I am *not* saying that Assange is guilty. I don't know or really care. I object to all the folks who are saying "innocent and I'm not interested in anything being proven because the women are clearly lying, are tools of the CIA, gave consent, etc etc etc..."

Sandra

Holy shape shifting lizards, Thank you!

Fabulous post! Thank you! I love your fierce build up and close reading of the rape apologist bullshit out there!

I posted this morning with my stance as a feminist:

http://bookmaniac.org/feminism-assange-rape-charges-free-speech-and-wiki...

And linked to this post, which made me happy that people GET IT.

Thanks!

AWESOME post! & thanks for the link!

:)

Searchlight

One should be cautious about citing Searchlight magazine. They are well known to have close relations with British security forces and have a reputation for puffery. See Albert Meltzer's autobiography:

http://www.spunk.org/texts/writers/meltzer/sp001591/angels27.html

Searchlight

Thanks for the tip!

I did, however, read through a bunch of online discussions with a lot of Swedish participation & they were warning people about Israel Shamir / Joran Jermas, pretty much along the same lines as the Searchlight article. But good to know, thanks.

It isn't just Searchlight

Pro-Palestianian activists also raised concerns about this dude, cited his anti-Semitism, and his curious colonialist mindset about Arabs. 

Important point that you

Important point that you raise in your 'rant'.  I don't know if he is guilty or not, but that is not for me to decide. There is no case where consent can be given and not be withdrawn.  When that happens, when consent is withdrawn, to proceed is rape.  Progressive people need to remember that detail.

thanks for this.  I have been

thanks for this.  I have been re-posting almost everything about wiki and assange that comes across my facebook feed, usually but not always reading them.  i ahve to go back and comb through my posts now and delete if I posted some of this crap.  *especially* the one with the "castrating feminists" line in it. for fucks sake.

 

 

yeah

the piece that ends on how we need to save the saviour from "castrating feminists" is awful, but i personally think that the worst piece of all is the one by Murphy... i *really* hope he's lying and isn't actually a shrink who deals with sexual assault victims... oh god...

I am so sorry to tell you

I am so sorry to tell you this, but I actually know him and yes, he is a shrink.   don't know if he actually works with sexual assault victims.  

Two distinct issues

I think that people need to take a breath and look what are two distinct issues. Wikileaks is wikileaks what the people do who run it do....more people than Mr Assange are behind its running.

Julian Assange has been accused of a crime and needs to go through a fair process, if he believes he is innocent he needs to face the police and if the charges are farcical it will be proven in court. I struggle with the double standard of accountability for governments and large organizations. Yet we seem to forget this when it comes to an individual.

Face the charges, and you are innocent you are innocent if not someone else can run wikileaks

Two distinct issues

I think that people need to take a breath and look what are two distinct issues. Wikileaks is wikileaks what the people do who run it do....more people than Mr Assange are behind its running.

Julian Assange has been accused of a crime and needs to go through a fair process, if he believes he is innocent he needs to face the police and if the charges are farcical it will be proven in court. I struggle with the double standard of accountability for governments and large organizations. Yet we seem to forget this when it comes to an individual.

Face the charges, and you are innocent you are innocent if not someone else can run wikileaks

Why are you using the US expressions, Rape, Sexual Harrassment,

Of course you know well what you're doing by using these expressions as though they had the same meaning as they do in Canada or the US. They don't and I expect you know it. Pretty much anything can lead to a charge of rape or sexual assult in Sweden, depending solely on the testimony of the woman and the political motivations of the prosecutor.

Oh Yeah; that's the Sweden isn't it where the politicians have been stirring up racism to such an extent that there have been 19 shootings in Malmo of brown skinned poeple?

Swedis Justics My Arse

 

 

Use of terms

Simply because I don't know Swedish, nor have I found anywhere that explains the translation of the terms, offering more appropriate translations. If you have suggestions or can detail what the Swedish terms are and what terms in English would be better, please share!

Yeah, but she.....

While I would on most, if not all occasions, support what this article suggests (or at least some of it) it does not take into account that the female making the rape accusation has been linked to CIA Operatives and once massive amounts of research is done people may realize that the women making accusations are kinda sketchy themselves. Now, I am a radical anarcha-feminist, and like I said, on most occasions I would back this article up almost entirely, I would even begin calling for Assange's head on a stake. Rape accusations should almost ALWAYS be taken seriously, but in this case it just seems too convenient, too political, too conspiracy like, and just too......... well, it just doesn't seem real at all. If, and I really do think that is a big if, these charges are real, my deepest apologies, but I just don't believe the hype and I think this whole spectacle is a really great way to get Assange to lose support and to create infighting amongst activist and political groups, as we see here, as I add to the infighting. At least we can say we fought the good in-fight while the world around us crumbled!

CIA connections

Actually, my piece *does* go into the issue of CIA connections:

Ok, seriously folks, CIA ties or not is not the issue here. *But* since what has been said about it in multiple articles and by multiple people all seems to come back to the words of Israel Shamir aka Joran Jermas aka one hell of a sketchy dude, let's see what he says on the subject.

Shamir says that Anna Ardin, who alledges that Assange sexually assaulted her, published a couple articles in Swedish in some Cuba review journal. Apparently professor Michael Seltzer (oh shit, this isn't one of Shamir/Jermas' conspiracy theory buddies, is it?) says the publication is a product of a "well-financed anti-Castro organization in Sweden" which in turn has links to Union Liberal Cubana, led by Carlos Alberto Montaner, who has been accused of being linked to the CIA.

That's right. She published a couple anti-Castro articles in a journal linked to an organization linked to an organization led by a guy with ties to the CIA. Oh, and in Cuba, she "interacted with" a feminist anti-Castro group that is supported by Luis Posada Carriles. The thousands of posts online about how this woman's sexual assault allegations are bogus because of her "CIA ties" come back to those indirect connections alledged by Shamir/Jermas.

That's it? That's fucking it? That is everyone's proof that the sexual assault charges must be a sham? I love how just the mention of "CIA ties" gets people up in arms about how the woman alledging sexual assault is a tool of the CIA to discredit Assange. Maybe so, maybe not. But all of the available written material essentially comes down to the fact that if you replace Kevin Bacon with Luis Posada Carriles, you could play 6 degrees of separation with the woman? Hell, I bet I would only be a couple degrees of separation from Luis Posada Carriles...

If you have more solid research or sources or info, please feel free to share.

Thanks!

infighting?

Re your comments: "I think this whole spectacle is a really great way to get Assange to lose support and to create infighting amongst activist and political groups, as we see here, as I add to the infighting..."

I don't really see how any of this is infighting. How is it infighting? It is calling people out on sexist remarks, spreading rape myths, when they dismiss, belittle, or otherwise attack someone alledging sexual assault...

Once again, I don't know or care about Assange. My issue is with people's reactions to the discussion.

I am tired of people saying "but we don't want infighting" or "stop attacking allies"... Using these arguments to shut down - whether intentionally or not - legitimate criticism and legitimate public debate on important issues such as this one (which is rape myths, not Assange) does *far* more to damage "the movement" than any of the actual criticisms or arguments, in my opinion.

And, well, I don't particularly care if Assange loses some support, as long as *WikiLeaks* still has strong support. Actually, I'd love it if some of Assange's support could be transfered over to Bradley Manning. Fine by me. And that has absolutely *nothing* to do with the sexual assault allegations at all and *everything* to do with bogus cult of personality issues.

Oo

ho my...

i agree let s fuck polite.

I don't really know how i ended on that page but seriously ??

Let's bypass the border/cia/leak/whatever of the case, you actually think that the woman can invite the guy at home, have consentual sex with him, and then charge for rape because mid-sex (choose the good sentence)

1/the condom broke

2/ it started raining

3/some lezards shift-shaped

???

Consent & mid-sex

When consent is given, it is not eternal. If I consent to have sex with someone tonight, I can decide to *not* have sex with them tomorrow. Similarly, consent can be withdrawn mid-sex. If the partner continues, that is rape. Sex without consent is rape.

A comment by Kate on facebook sums it up pretty well:

‎"If the boundaries of consent [are] that a partner wear a condom and said partner takes off the condom, that is at least sexual assault if not rape."

Consent & consent - mid sex

First, sorry for the double post.

Second, concerning the withdrawn of the consent mid-sex I'm sorry but involving the law in that sounds awfully wrong.. If you think afterward the guy is a moron for whatever reason just dump him, but accusion of rape (or sexual assault) in that case can lead to blatant abuse of the law..

 

Yes.

It is.  If the initial conditions of consent have been breached, it is rape.

If one of the participants changes their mind mid way through, communicates this and is ignored ("I was almost there!") it is rape.

Metaphorically speaking, the offending party had indeed turned into a lizard.

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